Gentle Bamboo Solutions

The King is dead. Long live the King


Have you wondered what this phrase means? The King is dead. Long live the King. I did. I remember thinking that’s just contradictory. That makes no sense!

But what this phrase does is announce the death of the previous king and assure the public of the continuation of the monarchy; that the heir is now the new king.

Lately, I have been feeling this way about training. Training is dead. Long live training.

Here’s why I believe training in its current context-independent form is dead (or will die soon).

Information-heavy content with no effort towards knowledge retention, recollection, and reinforcement. The training is boring. Fun, engagement, and participation, if any, are incidental. Theoretical content with little or no relevance to real-time scenarios. Training schedules that are infrequent or inconvenient rather than ‘need-of-the-hour’.

One-size-fits-all approach allowing no personalization in terms of content, pace, and mode of training Lack of real assessment and motivation leading to a casual approach to training, where the sole aim becomes attending them and not learning or solving a problem. Eventually, training becomes little more than a checkbox with no real measurement or monitoring of actual outcomes. This scenario is common across all formats of training.

So, how can we address these issues and make training effective and engaging?

Traditional training is delivered through three broad channels – in-person, virtual, and self-learning portals. They all follow these basic steps: go through the content, complete an assessment, and get certified. The big gap in these approaches is “what happens after training”. As humans, we forget what we learn after some time unless there is monitoring and reinforcement. We need interesting ways to make training effective. Here are 5 ideas I have been thinking about.

  1. An effective Training Model: For training to be effective, the right solution must be simple and easy for the learner and measurable, and monitorable for management at all levels.
  2. Bite-size learning: In this fast-paced world, most people do not have the time or attention span to absorb pages of long documents or sit through hours of training and retain all that knowledge. It is far easier to consume information in small bits on a regular basis. Light-weight content is not only engaging and easy to consume, it is also accessible over any device and makes it convenient to the user.
  3. Personalized for each individual: Why should we force every individual to go through every page or minute of the content if they already know some of that content? Every training initiative should begin by knowing what everyone does not know and customize the training towards filling those gaps. Personalized training adapted to such individual needs and knowledge gaps provide motivation to learn and creates an effective method of training.
  4. Retention, Reinforcement, and Recognition: The efficacy of any training program is proven when the knowledge imparted is retained and applied. Such retention comes through personalized reinforcement, recollection, and recognition. Peer challenges, peer rankings, quizzes, rewards and recognition, games, and gamification models that encourage prompt and regular learning help to keep the fun factor alive in training and ensure high learner engagement.
  5. Continuous, Real-time Training: In today’s business environment where things are constantly changing, product cycles are shorter and there is a higher level of expectation from customers, it is absolutely important to facilitate continuous training and upskilling. A new employee cannot wait for the next quarter’s training session or frontline salespeople cannot wait to know about competitor comparisons. A culture of continuous learning and upskilling in the organization helps to keep the employees up-to-date on the latest in products, processes, sales, customer services, compliance, and more.

Why am I taking this, frankly, fatalist approach?

A few years ago, I really looked forward to traveling for work. There was something amazing about boarding a flight, going to a new city, checking into a new hotel, and working in a new office for a couple of days. I did that 2 to 3 weeks a month for 4 months until all the planes looked the same, all the hotels looked the same, and all the offices looked the same. And I stopped caring. I fear training is headed in the same direction.

The vendor might change, the topic might change, the mode might change – but a participant can’t really distinguish one from the other and eventually, nobody cares.

We need a model where every training is recognizably different from the last and leads to some tangible result for the learner. How can we create that model for training and how can we get buy-in from companies? Let’s talk about that tomorrow…

Cautiously optimistic,